I don’t think I’ve read something as full of shit as this article about the incoming DOOM of the comic book industry. Honestly, I found myself wondering if a person could so misunderstand what they are talking about more than Devin Faraci.
His piece does not start off well:
In the years that I’ve been writing for CHUD I’ve gone from a guy who bought a lot of comics on a weekly basis to a guy who was a trade waiter to a guy who buys almost no comics at all. I may pick up a highly regarded trade when I need something to read, but the only book that I actually follow anymore is Scott Pilgrim, and that is almost over. I could attribute some of this to growing up, and certainly my intolerance for the bullshit that is superhero comics is a side effect of waking up one morning and deciding that being an adult isn’t the worst thing in the world.
Here’s a rule: if a writer spends the opening paragraph(s) of their piece talking about how they are at once an insider and an outsider about some topic you can pretty much guarantee that the rest of whatever they write will be full of shit. If they precede to insult whatever they are discussing as they distance themselves from it then you can pretty much bet the farm on their missing the mark.
Things don’t get much better as we move further into the piece:
And this is very, very bad. Superheroes are very, very bad. They’re like 50 year old hookers chainsmoking on the corner: used up, their best days behind them, appealing only to the most debased, most awful people. The fanbase for superhero comics in this day and age tends to be a devolved group clinging to degrading psychosexual power fantasies that take them away from their daily powerlessness. White males on the sidelines of society who are attached to juvenile escapades and repetitive, stunted storytelling. I’m beginning to look at adults who are deeply immersed in superheroes the way I would look at a grown man eating baby food for lunch. Except that I would say the baby food guy is at least getting some nourishment.
*YAWN* Man working for a website dedicated to obsessing over films insults comic fanboys… pot calls kettle black. News at eleven! Look at how cool and smart Faraci is. He can take cheap shots at fanboys and their “psychosexual power fantasies”. This retorical move is so obvious and overplayed it really takes away from the delicious irony of an employee of CHUD going after comic book fanboys for their obsessions.
But really that’s all just fluff, the crux of his argument is the following: (the sentence in bold is my doing)
When Marvel and DC fall (and for me it’s when, not if. I guarantee to you that ten years from now the idea of going to a comic shop to buy part 17 of a universe-spanning crossover event will seem as bizarre to readers as it would be for readers today to go to a grocery store to pick up Night Nurse), the world of comic books is going to be in serious disarray. Local shops that haven’t already branched out into geek interests beyond comics will be destroyed almost overnight; hybrid stores that offer everything from video games to baseball cards and maybe have a social element – coffee shop for instance – will be left standing, but barely. Spider-Man will go on to star in five more movies, and there will be some sort of comic tie-in for them, but that’ll be tertiary marketing. The Big Two will still be publishing something, but it won’t be monthly pamphlets in the way we know them today – maybe we’ll get endless reprint trades and occasional new graphic novels.
STARBUCKS will save us! Comics are doomed and baseball cards and turning your local comic shop into Barnes and Noble save the medium. Baseball cards! BASEBALL CARDS. I wonder if Faraci really has stepped into a comic book shop in the last decade. As I understand it the sports card industry is actually doing worse than the comics industry. I worked in two comic book stores (that were successful and had a diverse stock) and sports cards were treated on the same level as Marvel Masterwork cards from 1997. I don’t see how diversifying your stock into another failing product will save comic book stores Faraci is predicting.
The comic world will seem like a wasteland for a while, but those independent mammals will have positioned themselves perfectly for the next phase. I don’t think these books will become suddenly profitable overnight; I know that many creators struggle to make ends meet while producing their books. That won’t change. People will still have day jobs and will write and draw on the side. But suddenly, without the superhero choking everything, these books will find the opportunity to grow. The artistic drive that makes people want to tell stories will continue, and a new economic model for these books will be created – hell, it’s already being created. And I don’t think that this means comic books will suddenly become an endless series of stories about being abused by your dad or about having no luck with girls; there will be adventure and science fiction and horror and romance. Getting into writing and drawing mainstream comics today is like being in a cover band – you want to do your version of Aquaman. When the superhero dies, it’s going to be like being in a garage band. You do it because you love it, because you have songs to sing. And maybe somebody will take notice and you’ll make some bucks off it. And just as it is with music today, the ways that you sell your art to people will be different. Just like bands no longer rely on Sam Goody to carry their CDs, comic creators won’t be stuck with Diamond and comic stores. Again, this has already begun.
It may take a decade or it may take a year, but eventually the connection between superhero and comic book will fade, at least to the point where we’re going to find ourselves in a place where the idea of mainstream publications, critics and readers taking notice of comic books will no longer be astonishing. When superheroes die comic books will have finally left behind their long, ugly, awkward adolescence and will be ready to join television and movies as mainstream storytellers. And just as movies and television encompass many genres, it will become widely accepted that comic books can tell stories of all sorts, for many different audiences.
The bottom line is that Faraci wishes the comics industry would just die and a new one rise in its place – one that better serves his tastes. My heart goes out to Faraci because I to wish much of the shit published today would vanish and be magically replaced by things more in-line with my tastes – I wish the same thing on the music, film, and book industry too. But such terrible hopes are a delusion and have no bearing on the future doom (or success) of the comic book industry.
Basically, Faraci’s article is a waste of time. There is a lot wrong with the comics industry and a lot about its future is up in the air. But Faraci’s piece does nothing – not a fucking thing – to contribute to the discussion. It is just bunch of hot air about fanboys and their “psychosexual power fantasies” and the coming indie revolution (a revolution that has been coming since time immemorial). There’s not real – i.e. substantive – discussion about sales numbers, the strengths of Marvel and DC in these difficult times, the second coming the speculator market or any of the other productive angles one could take on what Faraci is supposed to be “discussing”.
What we get from Faraci is an article that his film buff (film fanboy?) editors can nod and smile remorsefully while Faraci gets to feel cool and smart for his “insights”. What a waste of bandwidth.
Starting Friday, comic book collectors and Superman fans will have the opportunity to bid on a comic classic — an “unrestored” copy of Action Comics No. 1, said Stephen Fishler, owner of Comic Connect, an online liaison between comic book buyers and sellers. The book’s owner is not being identified.
The auction is attracting a lot of interest.
“One bidder wanted to trade his Ferrari for the comic book,” as part of an under-the-table deal, Fishler joked. But he said the auction will remain public. “I couldn’t see myself trading in my Toyota Prius” — even for a $375,000 car.
Why is this comic book so unique?
“Of the 100 existing copies, 80 percent have been restored, but people want an untouched copy,” Fishler said. The book is listed in “fine” condition, a six on the 10-point rating scale.
“It’s the Holy Grail of comic books,” Fishler said.
I have returned from my trip to the San Fransisco area and I have to say it was a good time. The girlfriend, family, and I were able to check out Oakland, Berkeley, the Napa/Sonoma Wine Country, and San Fransisco itself. We even made it as far south as Monterrey.
I learned several things during my time out there. First things first, there is no place for a vegan to eat in Sonoma. Napa wasn’t much better but it did have a very, very excellent vegetarian/vegan restaurant, Ubuntu. In Monterrey we a very good vegetarian friend place, called Tillie Gorts. Easily though the best dinning was in Berkeley and San Fransisco. We went to the local chain Herbivore, in both Berkeley and San Fransisco. And, easily, the best place to eat in the whole trip was Millennium. Expensive but extremely tasty.
I was amazed by the sheer number of book stores, especially used bookstores at fair prices. I was able to find a couple of older books that I’ve been looking for (Chants Democratic & The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution) along with a new book that had flown under my radar at home (A History of Histories).
When I was in San Fransisco I was able to hit up two very excellent comic shops, Isotope and Comix Experience. Both are utterly great stores; open, accessible, and very well-stocked. The staffs of both were very friendly (I was able to meet Brian Hibbs of Savage Critics but was too sheepish to really talk to him). Both stores set a great example for other comics stores to follow. I would really wish for a store with the sort of atmosphere of Isotope to open in the DC/VA/MD area. It would be a dream.
With the trip recap out of the way, in the next few days expect to see more from me here. With graduation out of the way and a lot more free time on my hands I hope to really get back to business with this whole blogging thing.
But, of course, we’ll see.
In case you hadn’t heard today is Free Comic Book Day. What that means, for the uninformed, is that you can go to your local comic shop and get free “sampler” comics. Plus they usually have sweet sales and the like.
You readers should check out your local store.
What’s especially weird about this year (for me, of course), is that this is the first year since 2005 I’m not working on Free Comic Book Day at a comic book store.
UPDATE: Greg Land’s art on the FCBD X-Men book ruined it.
On Friday I bought comics for the first time since December (!).
Here was what in my much neglected sub-box:
- 4 issues of Ultimate Spider-Man
- 4 issues of Daredevil
- 1 issue of Astonishing X-Men
- 1 issue of Runaways
- 1 issue of All-Star Superman
- 4 issues of Buffy: Season Eight
- 1 copy of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier
I think this says a few things. First, certain creators (I’m looking at you Grant & Joss) can’t keep a deadline. Second, I’m amazed out how much my tastes have evolved over the last few years. I’m down to reading just a couple of mainstream superhero books. The big event books (ie. Skrulls) were missing. Two years ago I was reading 80% of what Marvel/DC were putting out. Today, I’m reading just a drop of that bucket.
I’m just not the fan-boy I used to be.
The real question is though, has the superhero comics left me or have I superhero comics?
(Oh and pretty much all of the books I bought were good. Except for Runaways, which was terrible. And poor, poor Mia. Way to throw her under a bus, Ed.)
Yes, people really do buy the hentai action figures. I know because I’ve sold them with my very hands.
And I still feel gross.
The important points (italics mine, of course):
Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited will offer the archive in a high-resolution format on computer screens for $59.88 a year, or at a monthly rate of $9.99, at Marvel’s website.
To help market the initiative, To Marvel will reportedly offer a free sampler of 250 titles, and to protect current sales of comic books, new issues won’t be on the Marvel site until six months after they are published.
It’s a tentative move onto the Internet: Comics can only be viewed in a Web browser, not downloaded, and new issues will only go online at least six months after they first appear in print.
Essentially, my friends, until comics are cheap, downloadable and portable ‘online’ mainstream comics distribution is fucked.
Who wants to pay 60 bucks a year to view comics on a web-browser?